Building a Listening Room

Solid-state power amplifiers,
Tubed power amplifiers,
Solid-state preamplifiers,
Tubed preamplifiers,
Integrated amplifiers,
Disc players,
Digital-to-analog converters,
Loudspeaker cables,
Room treatments
Building a Listening Room

In Retrospect
Needless to say, I’m beyond thrilled with the new listening room. It has exceeded expectations in every way and, indeed, has been revelatory. In relation to the expense of building the house, the cost of the Iso-Wall and studio isolation door ($13,500) was incremental. Even if you hire out the Iso-Wall installation the cost is still reasonable when viewed in context of the price of today’s high-end systems. If you have the chance to build a house, the cost of ASC’s Iso-Wall is without question the best allocation of your audio budget.

What would I have done differently? Given the enormous sonic improvements I heard, I can imagine that the glued-and-screwed walls and elaborate framing structure Art Noxon specified would have elevated the sound quality to another level. I also would have hired someone to help me with the installation; it’s a huge amount of work for one person, particularly one whose day job is largely sitting at a computer. But overall, it was well worth the research, time, effort, and expense. It was also a great learning experience. Building the room was a small price to pay for realizing a place specifically tailored to reviewing and enjoying music with wonderful fidelity for the rest of my days.

The Reference System

The first system in the new room is a combination of products that will be long-term reference components in addition to short-term review samples. Watch for upcoming reviews. Here’s the rundown:

Digital sources: Aurender W20 server, Berkeley Alpha Reference Series2 MQA DAC, Berkeley Alpha USB interface, Audience Au24 USB cable, AudioQuest Wild Digital AES/EBU
Analog sources: Basis Audio Transcendence turntable with SuperArm 12.5, Air Tight Opus cartridge, Moon 810LP phono- stage
Electronics: Constellation Altair II preamplifier, Hercules II power amplifiers
AC power: Shunyata Research Hydra and Triton, Sigma AC cords
Cables: Shunyata Research Sigma (balanced)
Equipment racks and amplifier stands: Critical Mass Systems Olympus, CenterStage2 isolation
Surface acoustic treatments: Acoustic Geometry Pro Room Pack 12